This time last year everything was so different. I was able to hide everything with a smile. Faking a smile is so much easier than having to explain why you are sad. I don’t think people understand how hard it is to explain what is going on in your head when you don’t really understand it yourself.
However, it is hard getting up every day and pretending nothing is wrong. It is hard to fly when you are weighed down by something…..
I take a deep breath as I feel my heart stop beating for a second. I feel sick. I know I am getting closer to the building that the therapist’s office is in. I am glad I left myself plenty of time; if I walk any slower I will be walking backwards!
I have butterflies in my stomach, not the good kind like when you talk to someone you really like, but the bad kind, where you feel as if something terrible is about to happen.
Seeking help and deciding to see a therapist was a really difficult decision, one I have been putting off for years, but I want things to be different, I want the pain and sadness to go away. I hate remembering but I can’t seem to forget.
I feel nauseous and tingly all over as I reach the building. I take a breath and try and stop myself from being sick. I shouldn’t be this nervous. I have already met my therapist during an initial assessment to see if she felt she could work with me, so why do I feel like I am meeting her for the first time?
The building is a church. She rents a small office there. I am not sure whether the room being in a church comforts me or if I think it is weird. I cannot think straight right now. I ring the bell to be let in. Eurgh the butterflies are back!
Someone lets me in and shows me to a waiting area. I am hot and feeling sick. I take a seat before I risk passing out. The huge jumper I put on this morning and having my long hair down to help me “hide” does not seem like such a good idea right now. I sit staring into space thinking about what I will say. My left leg starts twitching as it always does when I am nervous, I try to focus on keeping it still.
I hear my name called and see my therapist approach. She asks me to follow her through to her office. I get up and start to follow her. My legs are like jelly, I have no idea how they are holding me up right now or how I am managing to put one foot in front of the other. My hands are numb. I hold them tightly together and rub them trying to get some feeling back.
Her office is like you would imagine a typical therapist’s office. It is small and there is a window. There are two comfy chairs sitting opposite each other. Next to one of the chairs is a small table consisting of a plant and a box of tissues. If she thinks I am going to cry she has another think coming! I never cry!
I sit down in the chair closest to the table and watch her lock the door. I am not sure whether that makes me feel safe or vulnerable right now. I cannot make sense of what I feel. I pull my big jumper higher up my neck and make sure my hair is sitting around my face letting me “hide”. I pull my sleeves down over my hands and have my jacket over my knees. This is as much protection and comfort I can give myself.
I won’t make eye contact with her as she asks how I am. She says she can see how nervous I am and that I am not to worry, she is not going to push me or make me say anything I am uncomfortable with.
Still without making eye contact I tell her I am scared. That I do not trust anybody but that I know she is going to want me to trust her. I explain that if I trust her then I am opening myself up to getting hurt. She says she understands, that she wants to help me, not hurt me. She already knows the basics of what happened to me from my earlier assessment with her, though it does not make this any easier.
Silence. Uncomfortable silence. I hate it. I have to say something.
I tell her I am scared of how I feel. That I have been feeling bad and that I don’t understand why or why I am unable to just block out what he did to me anymore.
She says there was always going to be a point when I would have started to remember. That, if I hadn’t started to remember already, then something would have triggered me into remembering. That sometimes we do not feel the weight of something until we begin to release it.
My leg starts twitching again as I tell her how scared I am of admitting and facing what he did to me, what they all did to me. She tells me how I feel is normal. That facing this and healing myself will be a process and not something that will happen overnight.
It will take time. It will hurt, sometimes a lot. It will require dedication and willpower. It will require sacrifice. My body and mind will be pushed to the max and I will need to be able to make healthy decisions for myself. She says I will be tempted to quit but that when I reach my goal, reach the end, that everything will be worth it.
It is not just about feeling better but about getting better, which usually involves feeling worse for a while. I shift in my chair as I wonder just how much worse I could feel. She says I must strive for progress and not perfection and that I must not put too much pressure on myself. That this will be a hard, though rewarding, process.
She sees me fiddling with the safety pin in my hand and asks me to hand it to her. I hesitate, unsure whether to hand it over. I can’t tell whether she is angry at me so I look up and see her smile gently and say I am not in trouble. I hand her the pin.
I explain to her that I am afraid of failing and disappointing people. That I already feel like I am failing for not being strong enough to cope on my own anymore. I tell her that I am ashamed of the depression and anxiety and for not being able to control them anymore. I explain that I am ashamed and embarrassed about the abuse. That I feel she will hate me once she finds out what happened to me and that she will not want to be my therapist anymore. She tries to put my mind at rest, tells me I have nothing to be ashamed off and that under no circumstances will she leave me. She says I have been through enough and that she wants to help me overcome this.
Fifty minutes later my first therapy session is over. I breathe a sigh of relief. It felt like it went on forever! I am shaking and can feel that my face is red from embarrassment. I feel completely and utterly exhausted but also strangely calm. Calmer than I expected to feel.
However I also have a strange feeling in my stomach. It is a feeling I cannot explain very well. It is a muddled up feeling. The feeling you get when you are unsure what you are feeling.
I feel tired and mentally exhausted. I had no idea a therapy session could be so draining. I didn’t even go into any detail! I feel like I am tired of keeping this horrible secret. I am tired of holding everything inside. I have always acted like what they did doesn’t bother me, yet inside it is tearing me apart.
I feel emotional and teary. I guess I feel overwhelmed. I have begun a journey I never thought I would take. I have begun a journey that feels like it will take forever and one that I cannot see an end to. However there must be an end and if I want to make it then I have to begin with a single step.
No matter how afraid I am, I have to take this journey one step at a time. The pace I go does not matter, I just have to put one foot in front of the other.
One small step at a time, I am going to get through all of this one way or another.
I may not be there yet, but I am closer than I was yesterday.
Thanks for reading.